An improved design concept for direct methanol fuel cells makes it possible to construct fuel-cell stacks that can weigh as little as one-third as much as do conventional bipolar fuel-cell stacks of equal power. The structural-support components of the improved cells and stacks can be made of relatively inexpensive plastics. Moreover, in comparison with conventional bipolar fuel-cell stacks, the improved fuel-cell stacks can be assembled, disassembled, and diagnosed for malfunctions more easily. These improvements are expected to bring portable direct methanol fuel cells and stacks closer to commercialization. In a conventional bipolar fuel-cell stack, the cells are interspersed with bipolar plates (also called biplates), which are structural components that serve to interconnect the cells and distribute the reactants (methanol and air). The cells and biplates are sandwiched between metal end plates. Usually, the stack is held together under pressure by tie rods that clamp the end plates. The bipolar stack configuration offers the advantage of very low internal electrical resistance. However, when the power output of a stack is only a few watts, the very low internal resistance of a bipolar stack is not absolutely necessary for keeping the internal power loss acceptably low.